|The first excerpt represents the element of Air. It speaks of mental influences and the process of thought, and is drawn from Enemies of Books by William Blades:
while the great bibliographer, wiping his thumb on his coat sleeve,
passed on with the remark, "Oh, yes! they have black heads sometimes."
That was something to know--another fact for the entomologist;
for my little gentleman had a hard, shiny, white head,
and I never heard of a black-headed bookworm before or since.
Perhaps the great abundance of black-letter books in the Bodleian
may account for the variety. At any rate he was an Anobium.
I have been unmercifully "chaffed" for the absurd idea that a paper-eating
worm could be kept a prisoner in a paper box. Oh, these critics!
Your bookworm is a shy, lazy beast, and takes a day or two to recover
his appetite after being "evicted." Moreover, he knew his own dignity
|The second excerpt represents the element of Fire. It speaks of emotional influences and base passions, and is drawn from The Lily of the Valley by Honore de Balzac:
hold the body to the spirit. There came upon me then that moral spleen
which, they say, the strongest wrestlers know in the crisis of their
combats, a species of cold madness which makes a coward of the bravest
man, a bigot of an unbeliever, and renders those it grasps indifferent
to all things, even to vital sentiments, to honor, to love--for the
doubt it brings takes from us the knowledge of ourselves and disgusts
us with life itself. Poor, nervous creatures, whom the very richness
of your organization delivers over to this mysterious, fatal power,
who are your peers and who your judges? Horrified by the thoughts that
rose within me, and demanding, like the wicked man, "Where is now thy
God?" I could not restrain the tears that rolled down my cheeks.
The Lily of the Valley
|The third excerpt represents the element of Water. It speaks of pure spiritual influences and feelings of love, and is drawn from The Mad King by Edgar Rice Burroughs:
In silence the two men approached the grounds sur-
rounding the sanatorium. In the soft dirt of the road the
hoofs of their mounts made no sound, and the shadows of
the trees that border the front of the enclosure hid them
from the view of the trooper who held four riderless horses
in a little patch of moonlight that broke through the opening
in the trees at the main gate of the institution.
Barney was the first to see the animals and the man.
"S-s-st," he hissed, reining in his horse.
Butzow drew alongside the American.
"What can it mean?" asked Barney. "That fellow is a
The Mad King
|The fourth excerpt represents the element of Earth. It speaks of physical influences and the impact of the unseen on the visible world, and is drawn from The Hunting of the Snark by Lewis Carroll:
So engrossed was the Butcher, he heeded them not,
As he wrote with a pen in each hand,
And explained all the while in a popular style
Which the Beaver could well understand.
"Taking Three as the subject to reason about--
A convenient number to state--
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
By One Thousand diminished by Eight.
"The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
By Nine Hundred and Ninety Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
The Hunting of the Snark